Bomi Kim began conducting the Mozart Tour Group of the Vienna Boys Choir (VBC) four years ago based on a recommendation of her former professor Erwin Ortner. Kim has traveled with the VBC to perform in Japan, China, Arabia and Germany. This is her first tour to the United States with the Choir.
The VBC and Ms. Kim are beginning the fifth week of an 11-week tour. Included in that tour was the Nov. 7 sold-out performance at the Virgin Valley High School. The Greater Mesquite Arts Foundation, spearheaded by its President Maggie Calhoun, sponsored the VBC performance in Mesquite.
Kim studied choral conducting at Yon Sei University in Seoul. She also studied church music in Germany and is currently working on her doctoral dissertation on early church Modi, according to her biography. During an interview with Kim she told the MLN that as part of her dissertation she is currently writing the Gregorian Chants which are sung by priest, rabbis and monks.
Kim has an extensive list of credits to her musical talents and loves sharing her passion for music with the boys. She has fun with them and is quite animated when she is conducting the group. Kim said, “I am animated because the boys need that. Our music is serious but it doesn’t mean that we can’t have fun with it. They are young boys after all and it helps to keep their attention and focus, not that they need much. We have a very good team.”
The program for the VBC tour differs with each of the four groups and the choir director is responsible for choosing the program for the tour. The Mozart tour group of the VBC has members from Japan, Ireland, Germany, France and Italy among other nationalities. Kim said, “I chose the ‘Around the World in 80 minutes’ theme to really highlight the international flavor of our group.” The Jules Verne novel was her inspiration and the music follows the same path that Philias Fogg took on the famous balloon journey.
The choir sang all the songs in the native language at the Saturday night performance. According to Kim that’s really not an issue when it comes to the boys learning the languages. The boys’ regular academic courses include German, English, Spanish, French and Italian as well as an extensive music program. Many of the boys graduate and go on to become conductors, composers, opera singers or even lawyers. Not all go on to a musical career but all begin with great music appreciation and a strong education.
Several former VBC members have gone on to become famous composers and the touring groups are named after four of their former historical associates: Bruckner, Haydn, Schubert and Mozart.
The school’s curriculum is designed around the VBC’s 11 touring weeks. During the academic school year the boys rehearse, study music theory, and other academics with one month of vacation in the summer. The VBC does not include an academic program while the boys are on tour so they can remain focused on their performances. It is the performances which fund the school.
Although the school is focused on music theory, different musical applications and academics, the school feels that the boys need to be very well-rounded and therefore the school provides many activities as well. Soccer is very important to the school and the boys usually have two to three soccer tournaments each week.
Boys are admitted into the school at the age of seven to eight years old. However, the boys who tour are generally ages 10 to14. Kim explained that the touring is too strenuous for boys under 10 and the school has only the best interest of the students at heart.
In 1998 girls were admitted into the VBC School, Augartenpalais, the former Imperial Palace, to study music theory but are not admitted to the choir.
The boys exit the choir once their voices change. But Kim said, “they don’t have to leave the school. They are welcome to continue their education up through graduation.”
Kim was very happy to be in Mesquite and was very excited for her Mozart group to perform ‘Around the World in 80 Minutes.’” In her biography Kim shares her sentiments, “A choir is about community, about working together to achieve a common goal. I love my work with the Vienna Boys Choir. Music should move. I make the boys laugh and they make me laugh. That is a wonderful feeling, and we want to share the sentiment with the audience.”